US Open Tennis 2012: Darkhorses Who Will Contend for the Title

Ryan DavenportContributor IAugust 25, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 13:  Andy Murray (L) of Great Britain shakes the hand of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France after his Men's Singles final on day eight of the AEGON Championships at Queens Club on June 13, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

This September, there may be a new champion in town at Flushing Meadows.

In the last seven years, there has only been one man not named Novak, Roger or Rafael to win a Grand Slam singles title, but there's reason to believe that could change in less than a month's time.

The 2012 US Open won't feature 2010 winner and 2011 finalist Rafael Nadal, and though Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will be partaking in the tournament, neither is at the height of their powers. 

With the members of men's tennis' "big three" either absent or suddenly appearing to be not so invincible, this year's edition of the US Open presents a unique opportunity for some lesser-known stars to seize the moment and end the trifecta's run of absolute domination at Grand Slam tournaments.

Here are some of the darkhorses who will challenge for the title at Flushing Meadows this month.



Andy Murray

It's difficult to classify the man who captured Olympic Gold at the men's singles tournament in London as a darkhorse, but Murray, who is still without a Grand Slam title, certainly isn't the favorite or co-favorite heading into the Open.

The Scot has had success at Flushing Meadows in the past, as evidenced by his runner-up finish in 2008, and after finally beating Federer with the world watching at Wimbledon last month, he just might have momentum on his side.

Assuming Murray and Federer both advance to the semifinals, they'll face one another once again with a spot in the Final at stake.



Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

As the No. 5 player in the world, Tsonga won't surprise anyone if he reaches the quarterfinals at the US Open once again, but after consistently strong showings this year, it may be the big Frenchman's time to finally capture his first Grand Slam title.

Though he fell to Murray at Wimbledon and Djokovic at the Olympics, Tsonga has been in contention at each major event he's entered in the past 24 months.

Once he reaches the quarters, he'll almost assuredly be facing Murray once again. This time though, they'll be on hard court, which may play to Tsonga's strength.



Milos Raonic

At 21, Raonic is one of the best young players on the tour, and though he has yet to advance beyond the fourth round at a major tournament, his strong performance at last year's Australian Open indicates that he's capable of bigger things.

In a tough draw that features both Tsonga and Murray, Raonic will have to take down one of the big boys in order to reach the elite eight.

However, if Raonic's serve is on, there's no telling how far he could go, as the young Canadian has led the entire tour in aces in 2012.



Juan Martin del Potro

Del Potro is the only player outside of the holy trifecta to win the US Open since 2003, as he captured the title by beating Federer in 2009.

Since then, del Potro has been wildly inconsistent, and has advanced beyond the fourth round of a Grand Slam just twice.

Despite his recent struggles, the 23-year-old appeared to be on his game at the Olympics, where he defeated Djokovic to capture the Bronze in the men's singles tournament.